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‘Negative’ Emotions? 4 Tips on How to Accept Them

‘Negative’ Emotions? 4 Tips on How to Accept Them

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Anger. Disappointment. Frustration. Tension. We’ve all been there and back again. Our culture has labeled these emotions as negative. Especially in the Jewish community, there’s a great deal of emphasis on growing in our positive traits. While admirable, we’ve subsequently also created a rift within ourselves by labeling some attributes as positive and others as negative.

While it’s commendable to work on developing our positive quality traits, it’s also important to our self-worth to recognize that we are whole and worthy beings with all sorts of emotions.

G‑d created us with emotions such as jealousy, anxiety and impatience. How do we resolve these emotions within our internal lives? How do we maintain a positive self-image?

Here are four ways to embrace all of yourself and your emotions:

1. Identify the Emotion

Identify the particular emotion you’re feeling at any given moment. Be aware of your current emotional state. Don’t let it go under the radar; otherwise, it will control you without your knowledge or consent.

For instance, are you irritable because you’re lacking sleep, overextended or hungry? Identify the situation, thoughts or feelings that might be blocking you from being your best.

2. Acceptance

Accept that you feel this way. Are you agitated because of a traffic jam? Frustrated with your spouse? Jealous because of someone else’s recent success?

Experience your emotions fully. Otherwise, it’s like a flat-lining heartbeat: You can’t shut off one emotional valve without clogging another. You know that you’re alive when the rhythm of emotions flows.

Can you accept with patience and compassion that these emotions are part of being human? Would you denigrate a friend for having a moment of frustration? Often, we treat others with much more kindness than ourselves. Try talking to yourself like you would a dear friend—with understanding, love and acceptance.

3. Humility

It takes a great deal of humility to appreciate our humanity and the beauty of having all these varied emotions and experiences. As much as we enjoy feeling happiness or joy, life would become stale if we knew of nothing else. How many days could you have an ice-cream sundae before you would no longer even want to look at the sight of ice-cream?

And how about the reverse? We may consciously or unconsciously say to ourselves, “I’m not good enough or I’m not worthy because I have these ‘negative’ feelings.” That’s simply not true. We are a container for the multitude of emotions that G‑d created in this world.

We are human and have a vast scope of emotions, none of which are truly “negative.” Similar to King David, we all have within us a multitude of emotions like those expressed in Psalms. The ultimate goal is to connect to the Creator by reacting to them in the right way. Remember that G‑d implants everything in us for the positive to utilize, to grow and to elevate.

4. Channel Emotional Energy Into Light

Allow your emotions to vibrate and pass through you. The issue becomes when we try to reject pieces of our self, and the concomitant negative self-regard and stagnation that arises. Don’t allow yourself to savor misery, but don’t deny it if you’re having a miserable moment. Who are you lying to anyway?

In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, it says: “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven. . . . A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing.” Further, “He has made everything beautiful in its time . . . ”

We overestimate the value of having a happy life rather than one of meaning, which is far greater. A life of meaning brings deep contentment and joy, as opposed to the ephemeral nature of pleasures that bring transitory happiness.

For instance, if you were recently under the weather, you might visit the sick with a greater sense of empathy due to your experience. Or you might channel your anger to champion a cause close to your heart.

Our emotions are invaluable teachers; we are meant to embrace them, to remain fluid and open. Once the emotion becomes like a clogged artery, we can’t pretend that the emotional lump isn’t there. Instead, we go in, open it up, express it and let the flow of blood return to its natural state.

Ideally, every emotion will cultivate a greater sense of love for yourself and others. We can allow every emotion to connect us more deeply with our self, with others and with G‑d.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Alyssa is a thirsty soul looking to connect to spirituality and the larger Jewish community. She invites you to come along.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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jim dallas November 4, 2016

well WRITE away young lady! emotions should NEVER be dulled or perverted by drugs or alcohol, nor by refusal to face difficult realities.
grow people!
the ARTWORK is, as always, spot on in all these great many articles of this and other mailouts, G-d bless you all and your Artist! Reply

J Toronto November 4, 2016

Really enjoyed reading this. Very wise tips to internalize. A great reminder that we are not perfect and we can use our negative traits to improve and elevate ourselves which is a life long project. Thank you Reply

T November 4, 2016

Very wise and well written article, Toda. Reply

Justine Canada November 3, 2016

This is an excellent article Alyssa Rachel looks too young to have written such a mature piece. A lot of us won't allow ourselves to feel these emotions and end up over-eating instead.
This helped me deal with some unusually anxious days. Thank you. Reply

BasyaD Massachusetts November 2, 2016

Excellent but incomplete This is a good summary but omits an important facet of dealing with "negative" emotions: sometimes, allowing emotions to move through us doesn't prevent their return. Because trauma -- often stemming from childhood, and buried -- needs to be addressed. The best way is to work with a trauma specialist who uses mind-body techniques like EMDR. But individually, if we find ourselves repeatedly having the same difficulties (like rage or anxiety), we can acknowledge and accept the emotions, as above, then ask ourselves: when did we first experience each emotion? Usually, we can trace them to childhood. Back then, our minds generated these emotions to protect us from something scary. These were often good strategies, at the time: crying got us attention; hiding kept us from harm. But they don't serve us as adults. We need to accept the good they did us in the past, and release them, sometimes more than once. A trauma pro can help. Or see focusingresources.com. (I am not affiliated with it.) Reply

Anonymous Chesapeake November 2, 2016

This essay came at a perfect time for me. Thank you. Reply

Anonymous October 31, 2016

I cannot recall the number of the verse but there is nothing like this verse from Ecclesiastes often will help to snap me out of negative emotions or discouragement. I have it in my journal.

"whatever you are able to do with your might do it. For there is neither doing nor reckoning nor wisdom in the grave where you are going". Reply

Mrs Dianne Kirkwood Rogue River October 31, 2016

Yes, resolution is sooo important! For us coming from bad backgrounds this issue is critical, I found that when in negative emotions if I can call my bestie or talk with my husband to explain how I feel, whether right or wrong, whether logical or not, it serves me well to get it out and is cathartic to know that someone cares and understands which validates me to move on to accept God's view of it and get my feelings in line with Him who loves me! Reply

Anonymous October 31, 2016

Thank You Your article is G-d sent and inspiring. Couldn't have come in a better time. Many thanks and abundance of bracha and hatzlacha to you. Reply

Anonymous Boston October 30, 2016

I agree with this article and Karen from Chicago My spiritual guide, however, discourages the expression of these negative emotions. Since I trust him I am working hard to stay in a positive state of mind. Reply

Keren Chicago September 1, 2016

Bravo! So glad to hear this point of view about emotions. It is a pleasure to hear someone extol the virtues of allowing emotions and moving through them rather than feeling the obligation to be happy all the time. Unpleasant emotions are more likely to dissipate. If more people understood that, as well as the difference between feeling emotions and acting on them, we might just have a less violent world. Ahh well. Thanks! Reply

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